Startup Diaries: When The Time Is Right

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Jemma Caldwell, founder of Tanami, encourages TheNextWomen readers to take the plunge into the business world.

I imagine it’s a bit like starting a family. When is the ‘right time’? It?s not as though a switch flicks and all of a sudden you?re ready for sleepless nights or you notice an increase in disposable income. And it will certainly take more than pushy wannabe-grandparents nudging you in the baby direction!

The ‘right time’ to set up a business doesn’t exist either. I’m afraid you don’t suddenly wake up one day and think This is it! The big day has finally arrived, everything is perfect right now.

The truth is, starting a business for anyone is far from perfect; there are stumbling blocks, people standing in your way, personal barriers and financial struggles. Sacrifices have to be made so when you are in the process of making big life decisions anyway, why not make another…

For me, the right time came upon moving 350 miles away from home, quitting the only permanent job I’d ever held and buying my first house. Bonkers, right? Well actually, no – in for a penny in for a pound! Tanami was born.

I had learnt a lot through working in large organisations such as the BBC and McCann and I do not regret one day I spent with them… however, with a natural entrepreneurial spirit, I always craved more freedom. Being responsible for my own time allows for this independence. Not only do I really enjoy my daily work, a mixture of PR and producing/directing videos, but I also thoroughly enjoy the client management side and networking.

I would encourage any new startup to network as much as possible. It took me a while to really grasp the
value of networking. I’m embarrassed to admit that in the early days I turned up to an event, scanned the room and thought to myself ‘nah there’s nothing here for me’ before foolishly sneaking off early. I cannot stress enough how important these kind of events are especially when you’re new to a city. Small fish, big (and unfamiliar) pond! Yep! The majority of new business we win comes about as a direct result of networking. Go in with an open mind; you never know who people are friends with or who their clients are.

Follow up after the events, take people for a coffee, really get to know their businesses. You?ll be surprised how many doors open if you put in the time to meet new people.

Edinburgh has proved itself to be a very small city and luckily for me if you nurture a good reputation, word spreads and the phone rings.

Until recently, my business was based in a city center co-working office. This was a great way to meet like-minded entrepreneurs. I cannot recommend co-working for new businesses highly enough. Listen to those with more experience than you, share learnings, gain a mentor… the list of opportunities goes on. If the space I’d rented had a meeting room I would still be there now!

When carrying out daily work, I try to continually think ahead and not let myself become complacent when things are going well. It is easy to get swept up celebrating when you come out of an exciting meeting or win a new client but it’s important not to get too excited. I learnt the hard way prematurely celebrating before paperwork was signed. I am a lot more measured and considered now before I crack open the fizz!

Of course it’s important to get excited about things otherwise what’s the point but just make sure that you’re not going to end up eating humble pie.

No two days are the same – one day I am interviewing Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford, the next I’m
office-based writing a press release about changes to pensions! Tanami’s three core services (video, PR and social) are intertwined; from early concept stages we make sure projects span multi-platforms to maximise expose. For example, we don?t just make a video, upload it to YouTube and hope for the best we tie its launch in with a wider PR agenda and will drip feed outtakes and teasers prior to release via social media.

We have an incredibly collaborative approach to all our work, be that in terms of working with skilled freelancers, joining forces with similar sized businesses to deliver on a project or working with other agencies in different part of the UK for the same client. This has allowed us to meet other businesses very quickly and learn from them. Although we have certain industries which we are developing a bit of a niche in (e.g. sport and property), we also work with clients from the financial sector to mediation, interior design to greetings cards! We would never turn down a client in an industry we were unfamiliar with.

Before setting up Tanami, I remember going for a coffee with a friend who ran a successful social media agency. She was offering me advice before going at it alone and explained that her clients were her friends. At the time I didn’t really believe her and thought how odd that would be ? I was never a fan of merging business life with personal friendships but now I 100% get it.

I love the creative freedom Tanami allows me, my clients have become my friends and I live in a beautiful city which inspires me daily. What more can I ask for?

I’m pleased to say that Tanami recently celebrated its first birthday which justified a bit of a party which was a great success! Mind you, the cake didn’t last long!

If you have a job you love but crave more freedom there is no reason why you cannot do exactly what you do now but for yourself. Think about that independence. No more bureaucratic hierarchies. No one telling you how much you can earn and when you are ready to take on more responsibility. And if you want to wear jeans to the office every day so be it – I do! I wish all you budding entrepreneurs the best of luck. Does the time feel right? Thought not, so go for it!

Tanami is headed up by Jemma Caldwell, who established the business following ten years? experience in broadcast television, film, PR, advertising and social media.

Jemma’s television experience embraces high-profile productions including Countryfile, Fifth Gear, The Gadget Show, Coast and X Factor; furthermore, she has executed PR and film projects for brands such as Siemens, Chevrolet, npower and David Wilson Homes. 

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